Well now...to continue on with my 3 blog saga (read previous ones) on a Sunday birding day.....I find myself on Stepson's Island Road off Highway 47 just west or northwest of Belle Plain Forest. As it was....the nice couple I met back at Forsythe did tell me a bit about the location of the Black Rail but sadly, as I was so excited of hearing of an actual 'hearing'....that my mind turned off a bit as we talked. Quite similar to the Charlie Brown " wah, wah, wah, wah, wah, wah," as the adult speaks.
I start down Stepson's and notice right off the bat that there are a few houses on this road.....so I kind of figured that 'nah'....can't be here, so I kept on a trucking. I passed a few open fields which were possible candidates but finally saw a 'parking lot' which spurned some thoughts out of the 'wah, wah, wahs). Yes, the couple from NY did mention something about parking lots. Aha......
Now, right after the first parking lot on Stepson's Island Road, the road narrows and turns to gravel.....a hundred yards up is another parking lot as it ends at the river and mudflats. Reflecting upon the 'wah, wah's" I don't recall which parking lot I should post myself at so I immediately get out of my car and just hang out at the furthest one. Lots of rails a calling....mostly Clapper it would appear. And a few rather noisy Marsh Wrens chasing me away from their near by nests as do Red-winged Blackbirds who often feign injury to lure the intruder away from their nests. Over-head a nice set of Ibis's do a fly by and no, they are not white-faced. I take out the iPhone and do a Black Rail call and wait.....I wait....a few minutes of waiting....and waiting.......no reply.
So...deciding to try the parking lot further inland, I travel the return leg 100 yards and park. There is a nice little walkway here that overlooks a nice little pond. Now.....that sounds like Black Rail territory with a pond, reeds but not pure marshland. Ok .....I get out the iPhone once more and do a call...again, no reply. So I walk down the path and run into a mudbank with the tidal being low. Lots of activity going on here with Clapper Rail calls going on all over and inter sprinkled with a few King Rails. Not bad....
As evident by the image introduced earlier on in this blog....a pair of clapper rails are playing musical chairs around some exposed reeds. One eventually chased away the other as evident by below.....
So with obvious Clapper Rail 'visuals' and King Rails in audio form.....I still was absent the sound of the Black Rail. Wouldn't that be an awesome experience to be in the presence of all three rails? Ooooooooooo......
Moving back towards the parking lot and narrowing my search between the trail and the pond, I stood.....played the Black Rail call once more and .....and....and...... 'THEre IT wasssssssssssss'......utterly amazing. I remember one time when I was a kid when I would read comics, the back page was always full of ads for army men and other odd toys to entice the average 8 year old. In fact, I can remember one army men set that were of Revolutionary War soldiers and the picture made them look great; I mean....I needed to have those army men for myself. I had my mom order them for me. And after a week or two I received a box in the mail, no bigger than a 'check-book box' if anyone remembers the size of those, and as I held them in my shaking hands, I was in utter awe. Much like today....in utter awe but this time over the sound of Black Rails. Three notes....kee kee drr...with an emphasis on the second note. kee KEE drr. I heard that call exactly three times in the next 10 minutes.
kee kee drr kee kee drr kee kee drr
Surprising what brings enchantment and contentment to a simple birder.